We all know the stories by now. Over-the-top spending by officials at the Government Services Agency (GSA), Secret Service agents hiring prostitutes while on the job, and numerous more tales of corrupt or wasteful spending by government officials.
In the wake of these scandals, Congress has convened several hearings about the issues. In addition, amendments have been offered on two bills to encourage greater accountability and transparency in government travel and conferences. A right move that demonstrates concern for better account of taxpayer dollars.
In spirit, the proposed legislations, H.R. 2146 and S. 1789 offer safeguards for federal employee spending on travel and conferences. However, ASPA and several public affairs groups are concerned that the legislations are overly expansive and could have a negative impact on the professional development of the 99 percent of federal employees. For while the recent news stories would make us believe that government is filled with corrupt, wasteful individuals many of us are aware of the reality that the recent newsmakers are the exception and NOT the rule.
That’s why ASPA is concerned about the amendments overly restrictive language around attendance and participation in conferences organized outside of government agencies. Restricting the ability of public employees to participate in professional conferences jeopardizes the important exchange of information that takes place between the public sector and nonprofit organizations. Concerned about the impact of these particular sections of the bills, ASPA submitted letters earlier this month to several members of Congress voicing its concern.
A copy of that letter is posted on the ASPA website.
ASPA is fully supportive of the goal of reducing wasteful spending. We believe that the recent incidents have unfairly painted public servants as corrupt. Rather, our experience has shown that the majority of public servants are committed, hardworking and honest.
We heard this from several Cabinet Secretaries during the Town Hall Meeting held by the Partnership for Public Service during Public Service Recognition Week. Here’s a video of that event.
As Congress continues to investigate and consider better ways to serve as stewards of taxpayer dollars, we just wish to remind members of Congress that there’s 98 percent of public servants that are already doing just that.